Monday, November 30, 2009

Gee's bend quilts

A while back honeypie and I visited an art museum near us that had a beautiful art exhibit of hand made quilts made by the women of the Gee's Bend Quilters Collective from the area of Rehoboth and Boykin, Alabama.
Absolutely stunning and gorgeous the quilts were!
Honeypie and I spent the day viewing and learning all about the quilts and the women who created them.
When we got home we read a children's story book called "stitching and pulling" inspired by the Gee's bend quilters and created a small quilt ourselves. Since it was our first time learning about quilting , we used felt and fabri-tac, ( a fabric glue ) to make our quilt but we will use real fabric and sew once we create our first "real" one after Christmas .

(below is a bit of information about Gee's bend and the quilters collective from their site)...

Gee’s Bend is a small rural community nestled into a curve in the Alabama River southwest of Selma, Alabama. Founded in antebellum times, it was the site of cotton plantations, primarily the lands of Joseph Gee and his relative Mark Pettway, who bought the Gee estate in 1850. After the Civil War, the freed slaves took the name Pettway, became tenant farmers for the Pettway family, and founded an all-black community nearly isolated from the surrounding world. During the Great Depression, the federal government stepped in to purchase land and homes for the community, bringing strange renown — as an "Alabama Africa" — to this sleepy hamlet.

The town’s women developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style based on traditional American (and African American) quilts, but with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Amish quilts and modern art. The women of Gee’s Bend passed their skills and aesthetic down through at least six generations to the present. In 2002, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in partnership with the nonprofit Tinwood Alliance, of Atlanta, presented an exhibition of seventy quilt masterpieces from the Bend. The exhibition, entitled "The Quilts of Gee’s Bend," is accompanied by two companion books, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, and the larger Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts, both published by Tinwood Media, as well as a documentary video on the Gee’s Bend quilters and a double-CD of Gee’s Bend gospel music from 1941 and 2002.

Throughout much of the twentieth century, making quilts was considered a domestic responsibility for women in Gee's Bend. As young girls, many of the women trained or apprenticed in their craft with their mothers, female relatives, or friends; other quilters, however, have been virtually self-taught. Women with large families often made dozens upon dozens of quilts over the course of their lives.

The women consider the process of "piecing" the quilt "top" to be highly personal. In Gee’s Bend, the top—the side that faces up on the bed—is always pieced by a quilter working alone and reflects a singular artistic vision. The subsequent process of “quilting” the quilt—sewing together the completed top, the batting (stuffing), and the back—is sometimes then performed communally, among small groups of women.

~ from

Honeypie pieces her quilt with the things she loves... Sunshine, hearts, blue for the beach and beige for sand.

We turned the quilt into a sleeping bag for her bunny and made a pillow too!

Can't wait to begin sewing our own family quilt together after the new year!

-- Post From My iPhone
^_^ birdycake on the go!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happiest thanksgiving!

Pumpkin clove pound cake with pumpkin cream cheese frosting...

Guinness stout pound cake with a whiskey sugar syrup and caramelized pecans.

We are skipping the turkey and going right for the desserts!


Happiest thanksgiving day everyone!
Feeling so thankful and joyous... And it's not the Guinness talkin'! ;)

-- Post From My iPhone
^_^ birdycake on the go!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ed Emberley

Do you know about Ed Emberley ? no? well you must!! (here is his website)
He is a writer and illustrator of over 80 books. He says he's a gradpa kind of guy now and only 20 are still in fact! His books are wonderful and introduce children to the love of learning how to draw in a really fun way.
Our favorite lately has been Ed Emberley's funprint drawing book and it is about learning how to draw these super cute thumprint illustrations!
You need a stamp pad and paper ofcourse... BUT...
If you have a little one that when you are not looking will thumbprint her whole body in multi-colors including her face...ehem... like mine...
you might want to start off using by using these... (do-a-dot art markers/paints)
We just discovered them and it has made this...well... just a little bit cleaner... for now.

Dotting the thumb...(dot) prints and getting them ready for drawing the details
Look at all those faux thumbprints! ahhh clean fingers and just as fun!

Adding details...

Here is some of our thumbprint friends

Or you can of course try it the Ed Emberley way and use your thumbprints!


Pomegrantes are so beautiful and delicious.... And they are here!!

Honeypie had never seen or tasted one, so it was a great introduction into such a neat fall fruit.
Lately we have been reading greek myths and the story of proserpina and pluto fit the part perfectly! Pluto, who was the god of the underworld (hades) falls in love with proserpina (persephone) after cupid shoots him with an arrow. Pluto kidnaps proserpina and takes her down to the underworld. "Once you taste the food of the underworld you cannot leave", says Pluto but Proserpina had already eaten 6 pomegranate seeds ... so, the deal turns out to be that Proserpina may be on earth for 6 months of the year and the other 6 months she must spend with him beneath the earth. And Ceres, the goddess of Harvest grieves for those 6 months Proserpina is not on earth and she makes everything wither and die... (thus the season changes of fall and winter, so the story goes.)
We tasted the Pomegranate and enjoyed all the juice and seed investigation, we even painted with the juice!
With the rest of the fruit, we decided to make pomegranate agar agar "jello"...

(Agar agar is a jelly like substance made completely or extracted from seaweed. Like ordinary gelatin, agar is flavorless and becomes gelatinous when it's dissolved in water, heated, and then cooled. Since gelatin is made from animal tissue, many vegetarians use agar agar as a substitute for gelatin. It gels more firmly than gelatin, and it can even set at room temperature. It is full of protein and contains tons of minerals one would expect from seaweed.)

Great to use for making fruit juice "jello"... a healthier alternative.

Proserpina and pluto

Beautiful !
Look at all those seeds!

Here's our painting with pomegranate juice...

Pomagranate juice agar agar (jello) ... delicious!

To make pomegranate agar you will need:

-7 cups of liquid

(My 7 cups consisted of : 2 cups of pure pomegranate juice, 1 cup of water, 2 cups of apple juice and 2 cups of coconut milk)
coconut milk was a nice addition but as you can see from the picture the coconut tends to separate and rise to the top...(its inverted)

-You will also need 1 tablespoon of agar agar powder which you can find in any asian market or even natural health stores.

-Lightly oil a pan or mold where the "jello" will form.
-Place the seeds of 1 pomegranate scattered on the bottom of your mold.
-In the meantime simmer in a pot on medium heat all of your liquids.
-When they begin to boil, toss in the agar agar and stir until all is dissolved.
-Turn off the heat and cool for 3 minutes.
-Pour all the mixture into your mold with the seeds and wait about 2 hours for it to harden. This can be done in the refrigerator or out.
-Store the in the refrigerator.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day of the dead and Frida Kahlo

In honor of the "Day of the Dead" being so close to halloween...
I decided to introduce Honeypie to Frida Kahlo. Frida was a beautiful female artist from mexico, who painted using rich and vibrant colors in a style that was influenced by the indigenous cultures of Mexico and Surrealism. Many of her works are self-portraits that symbolically depict her own life and the pain she endured. (Frida Kahlo was married to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.)

(The Day of the Dead/ El Dia de los Muertos (all souls day) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and Latin America. It focuses on family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members that have passed away. It is celebrated november first and second and traditions for this holiday include building private altars honoring the dead, using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts.
Because this holiday is so close to Halloween, The "Day of the Dead" is thought to be similar to Halloween, although the two holidays actually have very little in common. The "Day of the Dead" is a time of celebration and rejoicing, where in the U.S. Halloween is celebrated as a "scary" holiday, where people will put up scary decorations and have children knock on doors for candy.)

We read several wonderful books about the Day of the Dead and Frida Kahlo, painted sugar skulls and Honeypie painted her self portrait too.

Mama dressed up as Frida Kahlo...

This is a wonderful book for children that describes and shows the rituals , foods and customs of the holiday. Beautiful artwork and easy to understand. (Does not make the issue of "death" uncomfortable or scary).

This is an absolute gorgeous children's book about the life of Frida Kahlo. Ana Juan's paintings in the book are dreamlike and very much inspired by Mexican folk art and life. So inspiring!
We looooove this book!

And this book is a great children's biography on Frida Kahlo with illustrations by Tomie dePaola, who I am sure lots of you know from all the wonderful children's books that he writes and illustrates... (i.e. Strega Nona, the cloud book, the art lesson...)

And although this one doesn't necessarily deal with the day of the dead or frida kahlo... It was a find from our library and deals with the art of being a "storyteller" in Mexico and we loved the art techniques of the book illustrator.

Below are our Sugar Skulls...
And Honeypie's beautiful self-Portrait!

These are the sugar skull molds...
I used fondant to make them

Honeypie's self portrait

Her sugar skulls decorated

and mama's

If you'd like to make your own sugar skulls... (here) is a great site chuck full of information!

~Feliz Dia de Los Muertos!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween costume making!

This year we had a couple of costumes to make for halloween, among them a request for a "dolphin" costume for little baby nai'a  (hawaian name for dolphin!).  
I could not find any patterns for a baby dolphin costume... 
so I "eyeballed" it.  (Its the lazy-man's sewing technique!!)  
I placed a pajama the size of the baby on top of a piece of fleece material. (Fleece is very forgiving in that you do not really need to make any seams and the edges do not fray like regular fabric, plus it is very warm).  I then traced around the PJ leaving a bit of room for the sewing allowance.  As you can see I added the dolphin flipper at the end.  I made two panels of this and I cut a  white oval that fit over the belly of the dolphin.  I sewed the two grey panels inside out.  Sewed the wrists of the PJ to make the hand flippers.  I cut down the middle to the belly button of the top grey panel so the baby could fit though into the costume and added a couple of snaps to the white belly panel to keep the costume closed.  The dolphin head was two semi circles sewed in half and I sewed the batting stuffed snout  to the front of it.  
Also i sewed a black eye out of felt.  
...And ALL DONE!  

Very Cute!!

I also had a request for "the lady in pink"- Uniqua from the backyardigans costume for Honeypie... 
(funny that the costume doubled as ELton JOhn!... )
b...b...b benny and the jets!  ^_^ 

Making the Go-Go boots (booties) to fit over the rain galoshes

I traced over her coat for sizing ... used fleece again


My little lady in pink

~It was a great halloween!


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